When we left off the last time, Jairus had been stunned by the news that his twelve-year-old daughter had just died. He was walking with Jesus. He was sure his daughter was going to be healed. His confusion and frustration has been made even worse because he’s just seen Jesus heal a woman and heard Him say that her faith was the reason for her healing.
Over the course of my fifty-year ministry, I encountered many wonderful, strong, rock-solid believers who were facing what Jairus is facing right now. They prayed, the fasted, they called the elders who came and anointed with oil. They did everything the Bible says they should do and, but their loved one died.
Their pastor and church family keep telling them all the right things. “God is sovereign.” “Things happen for a reason.” They’re in a better place.” They’re finally at peace.” Those things are true and all need to be said, but they can’t begin to describe or even imagine the anguish going on inside of someone who is experiencing what Jairus is experiencing right now. We may not grieve as those who have no hope, but still we grieve, and that grief is deep.
With your permission and indulgence, I’d like to spend some time on this blog today to share a personal experience that helps me relate to what Jairus is going through right now. As many of you know, I wrote a book called, “Why Did He Bother?” The book tells many stories of what my family and I went through as I sought to live out the calling the Lord had given me.
This story was not in the book. I didn’t remember it until long after the book had been published. I guess the Lord didn’t want this story in the book. But I remember it now. It is unquestionably the most awkward and perplexing moment of my life. I have never been able to fully resolve the many confusing questions that have lingered in my mind, until I began to take a closer look at Jairus.
The incident occurred in Rhode Island while I was pastoring a small house church. One day, Joe, a member of our congregation, broke the news that his wife Kay had just been diagnosed with lung cancer. This occurred during the 70s and the treatment options for cancer were few and ineffective. For many long months, Kay valiantly battled the disease, enduring many brutally harsh treatments of chemotherapy with her husband lovingly by her side. But it became evident that the treatments were not working, and the battle was being lost.
But we were a Pentecostal church, a “full Gospel Church. We wouldn’t accept defeat. We knew what to do. We believed what the Bible said. We believed in “Jehovah Rapha,” the God who heals. We believed in the power of Jesus’ name. We stood firmly on His promises.
As Kay continued to struggle, we continued to pray and believe God for her healing. We anointed her with oil. We rebuked the devil. We fasted. We did everything the Bible said we should do, believing that, in the end, Kay was going to be healed.
We NEVER believed she would die. But, after about a year and a half, Kay went to be with the Lord. The congregation and I, as the pastor, were stunned, bewildered, and feeling defeated. What happened? Why wasn’t Kay healed?
Her funeral service was on a Wednesday morning and Wednesday night was our prayer meeting night. About six of us showed up for prayer but none of us really felt like praying. We just sat there, looking at each other, uncertain about what we were going to do next.
Then we heard someone coming up the outside steps and we wondered who it was. The door opened and in came two people we had never seen before. My heart sank even lower. OH NO – Visitors! Not tonight! Of all nights, not tonight! We’ve never had visitors at prayer meeting before. How did they find us? We didn’t have a sign outside, especially on Wednesday night. It was not a church building. It was a house.
Well, I guess we should get started. We ought to at least try to go through the motions of trying to worship and pray. Soon after we began, the man began to speak.
He said, “I’m not a church going man. I’m not very religious. I leave that up to my wife. But something just happened to me and I’ve got to tell somebody about it.”
Then he begins to tell us about his recent battle with lung cancer that began about the same time as Kay’s battle.
As I’m listening to his story, I struck with the unmistakable, undeniable parallels and similarities with what Kay had just gone through. The diagnosis, the treatment procedures, the prognosis, the physical symptoms of decline were all exactly the same as Kay’s right down to the final moments of hospice care where both he and Kay were sleeping most of the time.
I sat there wondering, Why is he telling us this? Why am I hearing this NOW, on the day we buried Kay?
He told us that he remembers feeling very warm and the room becoming very bright. He said that, out of habit, he got up and headed for the bathroom. After just a few steps, he realized that something strange was going on. Suddenly, his wife came into the room and started screaming.
All the tests now revealed that the cancer was completely and mysteriously GONE. He told us that he owes it all to “the Man upstairs.”
“The man Upstairs?” Is that who God is to you? Don’t you even know His name? What about Jesus? What about salvation? What’s going on here? Lord, what are you doing?
His wife finally got a chance to say something and she told us that she was from a Roman Catholic background but had not gone to mass or confession for a very long time. She said that as her husband was lying there, nothing but skin and bones, and she started hearing the rattling in his throat, she cried out, “God, please don’t let my husband die! Please don’t let him die!” Shortly after she prayed that desperate prayer, she ran into the room and saw her husband out of bed and headed for the bathroom.
I don’t remember their names and I never saw them again, but my confusion, my despair, and my grief were deeper than ever because of the story I had just heard that night. You may have the answer. But to this day, I honestly can’t make much sense out of that night. But it does help me to understand Jairus a lot better.
THANK YOU. Now let’s get back to Jairus.
Mark 5:35 – “Why are you bothering the teacher…?” Jairus didn’t see Jesus as his “teacher.” He saw Jesus as a “healer.” Our greatest need is to see Jesus as our “Savior.:
Do you believe Jesus is “bothered “by our prayers? Are we “bothering” Jesus when we ask Him to do something for us or for someone we love? Do we just ask once or twice and then change the subject because we don’t believe it’s His will? Is that what faith IS?
Mark 5:36 – (Jesus) “ignoring what they said…” Jesus didn’t try to contradict or argue with what had been said. He simply ignored it and continued speaking as if those words had never been spoken.
“Jesus told the synagogue ruler (Jairus) Don’t be afraid; just believe.” That’s an awful lot to ask. Can we really keep believing without being afraid when it seems like our prayers have not been answered, or when it seems that the answer was “No”?
Like 8:50 – “Don’t be afraid; just believe and she will be HEALED.” I don’t understand. How can she be healed if she’s already dead?
“Your daughter is dead.”
“Just believe and she will be healed.”
What do I believe? Who do I believe? Do I abandon my faith and start listening to reason or do I ignore human reason and keep walking by faith? Most of us tend to lose our faith when it’s time to start using our faith.
Being a Christian doesn’t end all our problems. But it does give all our problems a brand-new ending. Can we all, like Jairus, ignore what we see, what we hear, or what we think we know and just keep walking with Jesus until we get to the end?
The longer we and Jairus keep walking with Jesus, the more we will see and know and understand. Let’s all be praying for a faith that will take us all the way home, all the way to the end. Lord willing, we’ll wrap this up on Thursday.
I hope this blog is helpful and edifying. I’m always open to suggestions of how to make this site more effective. I hope you’ll continue to follow. Do you like it enough to tell others about it and encourage them to follow it also?
If anyone would like A FREE AUDIBLE VERSION of “Why Did He Bother?” Let me know and I’ll send you a promo code.